September 14, 2012 - 17:20 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Japan has made deeper cuts in crude oil purchases from Iran since it secured an exemption from U.S. sanctions in March, putting the country in a strong position to obtain a renewal when the United States reviews the six-month waiver, Reuters reported.
Japan was the first of Asia's top four buyers of Iranian crude to receive a waiver from the United States of tough new sanctions aimed at reducing Iran's oil income and persuading it to halt a nuclear program the West suspects is meant to build weapons. Tehran denies its nuclear work has a military purpose.
The exemptions were granted to buyers of oil from Iran on condition that they reduced their purchases.
The combination of tight U.S. and European sanctions has forced Iran to cut its oil output and almost halve exports from around 2 million barrels per day last year as Asian customers struggled to pay for the crude and ship it.
Japanese and U.S. officials have already held meetings on the renewal, with Tokyo presenting trade data to demonstrate it is reducing Iranian imports, a Japanese government official said, declining to be identified as he is not authorized to talk to the media.
"We expect to be informed of their decision in coming days," the official said, referring to a decision by the United States on extending a waiver on Japan. "We are not so much worried about their response about the extension." Since it won its first waiver in March, the world's third-largest oil consumer has cut imports each month by more than a quarter except for an increase of 6.8 percent in June. It completely halted shipments in July.
The United States next granted waivers to South Korea and India on June 11. Their renewals are due in December.